Hunt museum houses fine art rare collections and the High Court

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Andrew Carey

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FINE art was the backdrop for legal affairs this week when a sitting of the High Court moved to the award winning venue of the Hunt Museum and Restaurant.

Amid valuable paintings from the National Gallery’s Chester Beatty collection along with many items making up the curators choice, legal battles over personal injury claims were won and lost in what has long been regarded as the most distinguished 18th century building in Limerick.

Such was the demand for space at the offices of the Courts Services adjacent to City Hall in the wake of last week’s floods and storms, that the personal Injury sitting of the High Court had to be housed at the former Customs House designed by the Italian architect, Davis Ducart, in 1765.

Once the administrative centre for the Revenue Commissioners in Limerick, the Hunt Museum is now a central venue for the National City of Culture and hosts one of the finest restaurants in Limerick.

Counsel could always retire to the basement eatery to cool should “negotiations become heated”, observed one barrister in the corridor.

A spokesperson for the Courts Service of Ireland, Gerry Curran, said that as a result of flood damage to one of the offices at the district court, administrative offices had temporarily moved to an upstairs courtroom in the Merchants Quay Circuit Court building.

This, he said, meant that an alternative location had to be found for cases listed on the second High Court list.

“We thank them for the loan of the hall, as they say, but yes, we had to get a second location as both High Court and family court matters were already being heard in the Circuit Court building.

“This is a temporary measure”, he said, adding that refurbishment work was due to be carried out in the district court offices in the coming days.

Mr Justice David Keane presided over hearings including one involving a female physiotherapist who was seeking compensation for a fall down a stairs at an HSE hospital in Dublin. The woman, who originally worked and lived in Limerick with her husband and children, has returned to the city since her fall in 2010.

Senior counsels argued amid fine bone china and priceless works of art as the woman told of her severe pain and back spasm that prevented her from cooking, cleaning, driving for more than ten minutes at any time.

The fall happened during a spell of bad weather and counsel for the HSE claimed she didn’t heed warning signs before the accident.